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2017 NCAA Tournament: Kentucky vs. North Carolina recap: Wildcats fall to Tar Heels in Elite Eight thriller

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Kentucky comes up just short in its attempt for an 18th Final Four appearance.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs North Carolina Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It was a rematch of perhaps the best regular season game in college basketball this season. Only this time, Kentucky couldn’t find a way to hold off North Carolina, as the Tar Heels took down the Wildcats, 75-73 thanks to Luke Maye’s jumper with just 0.3 seconds left.

Kentucky freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 60 points in the win over UCLA on Friday night. Against North Carolina, the dynamic duo was held to just 25, nine of which came in the final two minutes. The freshmen also combined to shoot nine of 24 from the field. Monk hit two threes with under a minute remaining that kept UK in the game.

But, in the end, the Wildcats had no answer for Maye or Kennedy Meeks. Maye was second on the team with 17 points and seemingly hit every big shot in the game. In one stretch after halftime, Maye connected on a 3-pointer, an old-fashioned 3-point play, and another bucket when the Heels were struggling to score.

Meeks dominated the glass, finishing the game with 17 rebounds.

The game was ugly at times but never lacked for excitement.

It was a disappointing ending for the Wildcats as it appeared head coach John Calipari had this team coming together at precisely the right time. Monk and Fox struggled, while fellow freshman, Bam Adebayo, had a solid outing.

Anytime Kentucky needed a big shot, it was Isaac Humphries—not Monk or Fox—who came through. Fox and Monk did hit big shots in the final minutes, it was just too late.

Now comes the time for the annual Kentucky talent exodus as Monk, Fox, Adebayo and others are likely to declare for the NBA draft.

Meanwhile, North Carolina heads to Arizona next week to face Oregon in the Final Four.